Kevin Bickner repeats as Jr National Champion in Individual Jumping, Casey Larson and Bickner win the Gold in J2 Team Jumping. Sabina Gasienica gets Gold in the Women’s Team Event and Bronze in Individual Jumping. AJ Brown repeats with Silver in the J1 Team Competition. Bickner scores Gold in Elimination A competition and Ben Kaiser wins the Silver medal in the Elimination B Competition!
Minneapolis, Minnesota - With the majestic Minneapolis skyline in the background of the Bush Lake Ski Jumps, the seven Norge jumpers who qualified for this year’s Junior Nationals, brought home an impressive 8 medals including five Gold finishes! Representing Team Norge, coached by Scott Smith, were Kevin Bickner, AJ Brown, Casey Larson, Sabina Gasienica, Patrick Gasienica, Ben Kaiser and Hunter Smith.
Opening ceremonies in the rotunda at Mall of America included motivational speeches by several former Olympians and set the stage for three days of competition beginning February 28th and included 54 of the top jumpers from across the USA. In Thursday night’s Individual J2 Jumping, Kevin Bickner won the gold by more than 17 points over silver medalist, Miles Lussi of Lake Placid followed by Central Division’s Ben Loomis of Eau Claire, WI with the bronze. Casey Larson finished 7th, Ben Kaiser 22nd, Patrick Gasienica 24th and Hunter Smith 29th in a field of 40 athletes. In the J1 men’s competition, AJ Brown finished 4th with three Central jumpers claiming the podium that included Nick Mattoon of Eau Claire 1st, Brian Wallace of St Paul 2nd and Christian Friberg also from St Paul, 3rd. Norge’s Sabina Gasienica earned the bronze medal in the J2 women’s class missing the silver by less than 2 points to Elizabeth Wallace of St Paul. Manon Maurer of Park City, UT took gold.
Friday, March 1st competition started in the morning with the Individual 5k Cross Country race in which Norge’s Casey Larson posted a 9th place finish positioned with the 4th highest jump score in a field of 26, J2 athletes. Friday evening’s event was a longest standing combined J1/J2 competition. The field of 54 Jumpers (men & women) was split into two groups of 27 based on the Individual results from the night before. After each of the four rounds, the field was cut in half by distance leaving the top 4 jumpers to compete in the final round. Bickner took the 1st place honors in the A Class with a leap of 81.5 meters followed by Nick Mattoon 2nd of Eau Claire with a jump of 80.5 meters. Brian Wallace and Christian Friberg, both from St. Paul, tied for 3rd with 78 meter jumps. Larson tied Miles Lussi of Lake Placid for 8th and AJ Brown finished 10th In the B Class, Norge’s Ben Kaiser turned it on in the final round with a leap of 66 meters to earn the silver medal just behind Eastern Division jumper Matt Doyle who took the gold. Inter-mountain division skier Jared Shumate was 3rd. Other Norge skiers included Patrick Gasienica who just missed the podium by half a meter and claimed 4th with 11 year old Hunter Smith finishing with an impressive 5th place and Sabina Gasienica placed 16th.
Team competitions in both ski jumping and Nordic combined were held on Saturday. The women’s J2 title went to the Central Team #1, Norge’s Sabina Gasienica and Elizabeth Wallace of St. Paul. The men’s J2 title went to Central Team #1 including Norge jumpers Casey Larson & Kevin Bickner, along with St. Paul’s Trevor Edlund and Ben Loomis of Eau Claire. The Central 2 Team took the bronze metal. Kaiser’s Central #3 Team took 7th while Smith’s Central #4 Team placed 8th. AJ Brown paired with St Paul jumper Christian Friberg to win the silver medal in J1 Team action. In Nordic Combined, Central Team #1 including Casey Larson and Eau Claire skier Ben Loomis, claimed 5th place missing 4th by 1 second in a field of 14 teams.
Congratulations to Coach Scott Smith, our Norge Jumpers and the entire Central Ski Jumping Team on a job well done!